In Britain, some Muslims, particularly the younger ones, are finding solace in Sufism. Nigel Hamilton, representative of the Inayati Sufi group in London, believes, “Sufism allows them to look around and be tolerant of other faiths, especially in a multi-cultural and multi-faith society.”
Hamilton explains that Sufism has always played an important role as “go between in religious conflicts”. He cites Akbar the Great as an example of the first multi-faceted ruler. Akbar invited representatives from Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism to the centre, to address the court and answer questions. It was Hazrat Inayat Khan, from the Chishti order, who brought Sufism to the West with his book, Unity of Religious Ideals. In the footsteps of Inayat, Hamilton believes, “The religious instincts in man share a similar ideal. What we call God is in us, not an old man in the sky or somewhere else.”
Inayat introduced the “Universal Worship Service” for all religions, where Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious texts are all at the altar together, with a seventh candle for the religions not recognised. Each of the six priests will read a text about the same ideal, such as peace and reconciliation, wherein the ideas expressed are noticeably similar.
The Inayati order continues this tradition with the next service being held in London in June.